Questions & Answers

Are my alimony payments deductible?

Amounts paid to a spouse or a former spouse under a divorce or separation instrument (including a divorce decree, a separate maintenance decree, or a written separation agreement) may be alimony for federal tax purposes.

Alimony Requirements: A payment is alimony only if all the following requirements are met:

  • The spouses don't file a joint return with each other
  • The payment is in cash (including checks or money orders)
  • The payment is to or for a spouse or a former spouse made under a divorce or separation instrument
  • The divorce or separation instrument doesn't designate the payment as "not alimony"
  • The spouses aren't members of the same household when the payment is made (This requirement applies only if the spouses are legally separated under a decree of divorce or of separate maintenance.)
  • There's no liability to make the payment (in cash or property) after the death of the recipient spouse
  • The payment isn't treated as child support or a property settlement

Payments Not Alimony Not all payments under a divorce or separation instrument are alimony. Alimony does not include:
  • Child support
  • Noncash property settlements, whether in a lump-sum or installments
  • Payments that are your spouse's part of community property income
  • Payments to keep up the payer's property
  • Use of the payer's property
  • Voluntary payments not required by a divorce or separation instrument
One item to note is that if you owe both alimony and child support, and you pay less than the amounts required during the year, then the amounts paid are first applied to your child support obligation before being applied to alimony.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act changed the alimony rules for divorces executed or modified after December 31, 2018. Starting in 2019, the payer can't deduct alimony paid and the recipient won't need to declare the alimony as taxable income.

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